Adolescent Eating Disorders

Topics: Bulimia nervosa, Nutrition, Anorexia nervosa Pages: 5 (1689 words) Published: May 4, 2005
With children as early as age 7 showing dissatisfaction with their body, and as young as 9 starting dieting, eating disorders are a serious issue in our society. Taking a look at perceptions, behaviors, and medical issues associated with the disorders of anorexia and bulimia, scholars have tried to categorize and find answers to the problems which certain adolescents suffer. In this paper I focused on the two major eating disorders of anorexia and bulimia.

In 1978, Brunch called anorexia nervosa a "new disease" and noted that the condition seemed to overtake "the daughters of the well-to-do, educated and successful families." Today it is acknowledged and accepted that anorexia affects more than just one gender or socio-economic class; however, much of the current research is focused on the female gender. "Anorexia nervosa is characterized by extreme dieting, intense fear of gaining weight, and obsessive exercising. The weight loss eventually produces a variety of physical symptoms associated with starvation: sleep disturbance, cessation of menstruation, insensitivity to pain, loss of hair on the head, low blood pressure, a variety of cardiovascular problems and reduced body temperature. Between 10% and 15% of anorexics literally starve themselves to death; others die because of some type of cardiovascular dysfunction (Bee and Boyd, 2001)."

Bulimia nervosa is a slightly less serious version of anorexia, but can lead to some of the same horrible results. Bulimia involves an intense concern about weight (which is generally inaccurate) combined with frequent cycles of binge eating followed by purging, through self-induced vomiting, unwarranted use of laxatives, or excessive exercising. Most bulimics are of normal body weight, but they are preoccupied with their weight, feel extreme shame about their abnormal behavior, and often experience significant depression. The occurrence of bulimia has increased in many Western countries over the past few decades. Numbers are difficult to establish due to the shame of reporting incidences to health care providers (Bee and Boyd, 2001).

Many scholars have employed a variety of research methodology to try and answer the questions of: Why do some adolescents resort to extreme measures to resolve their problems? What can be done to improve the current state of the situation? The literature base on this topic seems endless. Some believe that these eating disorders are a result of society; others believe it is a result of parents, while still others believe it is an internal chemical balance. The list goes on and on. The truth is that it is not known why the disorder begins or what each individual experiences while consumed with these disorders, but we do know that recovery is possible. A supportive friend and family base, along with education in early childhood seems to be a logical step in the right direction. The inaccurate obsession with food seems to be the cause of bulimia; however, the inaccurate obsession with weight seems to be the cause of anorexia. A majority of research suggest that the media is responsible for this, due to the fact they idolize the thin, slender figure. For bulimics, the delight of binging comes at the cost of extreme guilt which can only be resolved by purging; a never ending cycle. For anorexics, these thin messages on the media can make them feel shameful and hate to look at their own body, which makes food the sworn enemy. In one research article it was proposed that individuals with an external locus of control (believing that their lives are determined by outside forces such as fate and other people) were found to exhibit more of the bulimic and anorexic traits than those individuals who had an internal locus of control (believing that one controls his/her own fate) (Fouts and Vaughn, 2002). There are two sides to the issues of participating in sports. Some individuals who participate in sports find a need to lose weight and develop...

References: Bee, H. and Boyd, D. (2001). Physical and cognitive development in adolescence. Lifespan Development. 3ed., 292-293.
Brunch, H. (1978). The Golden Cage. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Elkins, W. L., Cohen, D. A., Koralewicz, L. M. and Taylor, S. N. (2004). After school activities, overweight, and obesity among
inner city youth. Journal of Adolescence, 27, 181-189.
Fouts, G. and Vaughan, K. (2002). Locus of control, television viewing, and eating disorder symptomatology in young females. Journal of Adolescence, 25, 307-311.
Gross, S. and Cinelli, B. (2004). Coordinated school health program and Dietetics professionals: Partners in promoting healthful eating. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 793-798.
Muise, A. M., Stein, D. G., and Arbess, G. (2003). Eating disorders in adolescent boys: A review of the adolescent and young adult literature. Journal of adolescent Health, 33, 427-435.
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